Trump ‘enthusiastic’ about reaching NAFTA deal: Canada’s Trudeau

Source: By Leah Schnurr, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2018

OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be “enthusiastic” about coming to an agreement on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

 Mexican and U.S. officials earlier this month pushed to speed up NAFTA negotiations, though Trump has repeatedly threatened to terminate the trade pact between Canada, the United States and Mexico if there is no progress.

Trump has also ratcheted up tensions over the trade talks by tying the suspension of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico to a successful NAFTA renegotiation. Canada has said it views the two issues as separate.

“We’re renegotiating NAFTA, we’ve seen from the President he’s enthusiastic about getting to a deal,” Trudeau said during a panel discussion, adding that Canada was continuing to work on resolving the trade talks.

Negotiators are due to meet in the United States for an eighth round of talks in April. Mexico’s presidential elections in July have added some urgency to reaching an agreement.

Trudeau said that the spike in protectionism globally is an easy political narrative that plays on people’s fears over the future and their jobs, but that can be alleviated by creating trade pacts that can guarantee better labor standards and quality of life.

“There’s a worry as we face a time of transition,” Trudeau said. “There are some places where a narrative of let’s close and protect ourselves can be a very compelling political narrative.”

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Grant McCool